Our Story

Pay Our Interns was founded by two former unpaid interns, Carlos Mark Vera and Guillermo Creamer Jr. Together, both Carlos and Guillermo were interns in five different offices, including the House of Representatives, the White House, the D.C. Mayor, and the European Parliament. In September of 2016, the two shared their internship stories and realized that their hardship was a similar one. With the launch of the Pay Our Interns Facebook page in October 2016, the two quickly noticed that this social media campaign was going to be so much more than that. Within just a few weeks of launch, the campaign caught the attention of thousands of young adults and a few media outlets. Weeks after the 2016 presidential election, the two shifted the focus of the campaign to that of a non-profit. After a series personal meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges, by June 2017, a first of its kind Congressional Report titled Experience Doesn’t Pay the Bills listed which members of Congress paid and which did not. The report was received and shared by various news outlets highlighting the abysmal number of members who offered paid internships. This report provided the small team a threshold on what changes they wanted to see in Congress.

One year from publishing the report, Pay Our Interns worked with various offices, doubling the number of Senate Democrats who offered paid internships and increasing the number of Senate Republicans as well. Alongside these increases, the group also inserted themselves in the DNC Chair race and worked with each candidate to pledge their support in offering a paid internship program if elected. By the beginning of June 2018, the Pay Our Interns team had successfully worked with the DNC, DCCC, and several Senate offices to help create their paid internship programs. Alongside a group of bipartisan legislators, the team worked to help create the first ever internship fund allocation for the Senate at a healthy $5 million fund. A few weeks after a successful partnership with the Senate, the team worked with a group of bipartisan legislators on the House side and successfully secured $8.8 Million in intern funding. On October 3rd, 2018, the President of the United States signed a minibus budget that included $13.8 million in funding for an internship program in Congress.

Carlos Mark Vera, Co-Founder / Executive Director

Carlos Mark Vera is the Co-Founder and current Executive Director of Pay Our Interns. Originally from Colombia, Vera was raised in California until he moved to Washington, D.C. to attend American University. While at AU, Vera was an unpaid intern at the White House, the European Parliament and the House of Representatives. He knows firsthand the struggles of trying to survive while interning for free. Most notably, Vera was named Forbes 30 Under 30 in the 2018 Policy and Law class and was named an Aspen Scholar for the Aspen Ideas Festival. Prior to Pay Our Interns, Vera worked for Van Jones at Megaphone Strategies. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, NPR, The Atlantic, Fox News, NBC Latino, and The Hill to name a few. Carlos proudly serves in the Army Reserves as a generator mechanic.

Guillermo Creamer, Co-Founder / Deputy Director

Guillermo Creamer Jr. is the Co-Founder and current Deputy Director of Pay Our Interns. Originally from Massachusetts, Creamer attended American University in Washington, D.C. where during his time he served as an unpaid intern in the House of Representatives and for the D.C. Mayor’s Office. Born from a Peruvian father and Chilean mother, Creamer speaks fluent Spanish and has always been interested in the betterment of the Latino community. Creamer has served as a speaker at various universities across the country and was a featured speaker that the annual High School Democrats Summit. Creamer was profiled by his local paper and was labeled as a young adult “making his mark” in Washington D.C. He has been featured on WAMU, NPR, PBS Radio, The Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, The Washington Post Magazine, and various local news outlets.

William A. Powers, Of Counsel

William A. Powers is Of Counsel at Nossaman, LLP, where he helps clients — particularly nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes — navigate the ever-changing landscape of political engagement.  He advises the politically active clients on the rules of the game related to electoral campaigns, legislative advocacy, and policy. As a former Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement at the Federal Election Commission, he also has experience directing and handling government investigations, particularly those related to financial crimes.  Through his work with legislative officials, candidates, and public officials who shape the policy debate in Washington, D.C. and beyond, Bill understands the important role that paid internships play in opening doors to a broader, more diverse pool of civic-minded applicants. He is proud to serve as Pay Our Interns’ counsel.

Rose Lopez, Outreach and Research Associate

Rose Lopez believes in the power of a good story. She has also taught creative writing at the undergraduate level and, for the last two years, has tutored minority and first-generation college students on their academic writing. She is passionate about making educational opportunities available to all. She has taken on unpaid internships in the past, but now the only job she does for free is raising her two daughters.  She will graduate in Fall 2020 with her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Florida International University.  Her writing has appeared in FIU’s student newspaper, PantherNOW, and online in Big Muddy Journal and The Drunken Odyssey.  Rose is also a proud Army veteran.

Arielle Geismar, Communications and Social Media Associate

Arielle Geismar is a Jewess and a fierce youth activist and organizer from New York City. She advocates and organizes around gun violence prevention, mental health advocacy, and women’s rights. She was recently named Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21, RED’s 20 Under 20, and a Diller Tikkun Olam 2019 Awardee. She looks forward to implementing change during her activism-focused gap year and graduating from George Washington University in 2024

Trevor Smith, Outreach Director

Trevor Smith handles all public facing messaging and materials. He is currently a Media Strategist at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he develops and executes communications strategies to support a variety of different projects, campaigns, and litigation efforts, and works to shape the organization’s voice across the New York and national media landscape. Before joining the NYCLU, he worked on poverty and federal budget issues as a Communications Associate at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Smith graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from American University and is currently studying at New York University in the Public Administration and Nonprofit Management program, where he specializes in race, gender, and class.

Muhammad T. Alameldin, Regional Director

Muhammad Tarek Alameldin is the Regional director for the Western United States. He was unable to take an unpaid internship during his time at the University of California, Berkeley. Muhammad was lucky enough acquire a paid position as a Policy Research Intern for the Office of Mayor Tubbs in Stockton, California. For Pay Our Interns, he started as a Policy Research intern and moved his way up to his current position. During his time at POI, the organization collaborated with Congress to establish $14 million paid internship program on Capitol Hill. 

Muhammad understands that paid internship programs are necessary for a more inclusive representation in government.

Serena Saunders, Expansion Associate

Serena Saunders is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, where she majors in public policy and minors in history and rhetoric. She is simultaneously earning her Master in Public Policy degree. Previously, she has interned for MaryPIRG, CLIA, Running Start and the UMD A. James Clark School of Engineering. She works as Development Director at Everyday Canvassing. She is passionate about improving our democracy through increasing political representation of underrepresented groups and expanding the right to vote.

BOARD MEMBERS

Jonathan Muniz, Sr Manager, Digital Product Mgt at CVS Health

Helga Flores Trejo, National Committeewoman for Latino Victory

Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Colin Rogero,
A Partner of “76 Words”